“My sister found this in our front bathroom today and we were trying to figure out what it is,” writest this reader about the segmented, black, worm-like creature pictured below. “We live in Western North Carolina U.S. I fished it out of the toilet to get a better look and see if I could figure out what it was. We weren’t sure if it maybe came from her and, if not, where it came from at all. Based on what I have noticed just by watching it, it looks like it may possibly have legs but I’m not positive. Based on the direction it seems to move it appears to breathe through its butt. It is very small and thin, zoomed in it looks like it has stripes along its body but two very distinctive stripes towards the end. Because I had taken it from the toilet I put a dime under the dip cup I had placed it in for size comparison and labeled the mentioned characteristics in the picture.”
To start with, we must thank our reader for the excellent photo, which doubles as a diagram. It is not often we get sent a homemade diagram! And we think our reader’s anatomical diagram is likely correct. Based on this fantastic photo, we would say this looks most like a carpet beetle larva, specifically a black carpet beetle larva. The good news is that these guys are not parasites, so they would not have come from our reader’s sister’s body. The bad news is that they can be quite the nuisance when they infest a home. We are not saying that our reader is definitely experiencing an infestation, but it is not often that people find just one carpet beetle larva.
Black carpet beetle larvae like to feed on the fibers in clothing. Most species of carpet beetle larvae only feed on organic fibers like cotton and wool, but black carpet beetle larvae will also eat synthetic fibers, so nothing is safe. Typically, you will find them in dark, cramped spaces where they have access to food, like a wardrobe, or under some upholstery. We think our reader found this one in the toilet because it was likely getting a free ride on our reader’s sisters clothes and then fell into the toilet. Given that explanation, we suppose it’s not impossible that this larva was actually brought in from outside, and that there are not more larvae in the home. That said, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
We recommend that our reader check her home for signs of more larvae, which include faecal droppings, small holes in clothing and other textiles, adult beetles, and, of course, the larvae themselves. If she finds more, she will want to vacuum her home, and launder any infested (and potentially-infested) items in the areas in which the larvae were found. It might take repeating these steps several times over the course of a couple weeks to fully eliminate the infestation. We also want to note that carpet beetle larvae are not harmful to humans or pets, but their bristles can cause allergic reactions upon physical contact, resulting in an itchy rash. Even without making direct contact with the larvae, these rashes can occur if previously-infested textiles are touched, as the larvae may leave behind bristles on the items they feed on.
In conclusion, the segmented worm our reader’s sister found in the toilet is a black carpet beetle larva. Luckily, it did not come from her, but its presence may indicate an infestation in the home. We hope this helps, and we wish our reader, as well as her sister, the very best.
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